An active flow control device to generate large-scale, periodic structures in a turbulent shear flow is developed. Together with adaptive optics, the device may be used on airborne laser platforms to reduce or eliminate optical distortion caused by the turbulence in the aircraft's boundary layer. A cyclic jet issuing from a spanwise slot is used to collect the turbulent boundary layer for a finite time and then release all of the flow instantaneously in one large eddy that convects downstream. Flow visualization and hot-film probe measurements are used together with pattern recognition algorithms to demonstrate the viability of the flow control method. A flat plate towed in a water channel is used as a test bed. The instantaneous velocity signal is used to compute important statistical quantities of the random velocity field, such as the mean, the root-mean-square, the spectral distribution, and the probability density function. When optimized for a given boundary layer, it is shown that the cyclic jet will produce periodic structures that are similar to the random, naturally occurring ones. These structures seem to trigger the onset of bursting events near the wall of the plate. Thus, the present device generates periodic structures in both the outer and inner regions of a turbulent boundary layer.